What is the role of social media in the citation of academic papers?

No one can deny the role of social media in our modern world, and the academic field is not an exception. Nowadays, we are surrounded by various social media platforms using which we can communicate, share our thoughts and memories, find friends, etc., and if you are a researcher or simply a student, you can benefit from these platforms to increase your academic papers citations. So, this article aims to briefly explain the importance of citation for academic papers, then explain the advantages and possible disadvantages of such platforms regarding citation of papers, and finally introduce the best social media platforms using them so you can achieve more citations for your articles.

However, before starting our journey, you should know that some platforms could be more reliable in providing data on user engagement, and others may need to be experts or professionals to assess or validate academic research. We decided to introduce more credible platforms based on these limitations, specifically in health and health promotion.

The Importance of Citation for academic papers

Citation is a valuable skill and you should have a good command of it as an academic writer since it can promote the quality and credibility of your scientific activities. If you are a researcher, you are already familiar with citation’s importance and role in academic fields. However, for those who may not know, we have briefly mentioned the highlighted points:

  1. The citation may come in handy to avoid plagiarism. So, you can publish your work without worrying if someone else wants to share your findings in his/her name. As you may know, plagiarism is a serious crime and can ruin the reputation of anyone who does this.
  2. Citation academic papers help other researchers check the accuracy and reliability of your work and check or read your references, which leads to validating your article. Also, they can get more familiar with your work topic.
  3. Last but not least, it shows how you are a master in your field, read comprehensively on your subject, and are fully aware of existing relevant literature in your field.

Advantages and possible disadvantages

Like any other tool, social media can be a double-sword regarding the citation of academic works, specifically in medical and health work areas. More precisely, the pros and cons of citation of academic works depend on the purpose, context, and quality of your used sources. So, it can bring you advantages, including:

  • Provide you with a diverse and current range of up-to-date information you can’t find in other sources.
  • Help you to connect with other researchers, experts, end even audiences in your field or relevant fields. You can also give them feedback regarding their work or receive it for yours. This is specifically important if you work in an Interdisciplinary field. Consider a physician who works on the effect of micronutrient delivery in the human body. They may be expertise in the in-vivo mechanism of nutrient digestion and its function on the target organization in the human body. But they may not be experts in delivering materials that should be used to encapsulate micronutrients to protect them against harsh stomach conditions. In this case, the physician can connect with other expert researchers in material science to do the best in their field of study.
  • Another significant advantage of social media platforms is that academics can promote their publications and consequently increase the visibility and impact of their works.

Best social media platforms

So, it’s time to introduce the top 4 platforms you can use for citing your academic papers:


ResearchGate is one of the well-known and popular social media platforms among researchers and scientists that gives them an opportunity to share their publications. This great media specifically focused on academic fields, has more than 20 million users and hundreds of publication pages. Researchers can connect or collaborate with peers and get feedback on their work using this social platform.  

The best feature of ResearchGate is its citation metrics for uploaded publications. The site provides metrics, including:

  • How many times has a paper been viewed, downloaded, or cited by other researchers on ResearchGate or other platforms
  • It can generate style for publication which anyone can copy or paste into other documents

Although some researchers use this platform as a source of information, there are others who believe that it shouldn’t be considered a reliable or authoritative source of citation information since it may overestimate or exaggerate the citation counts of some publications due to counting self-citations or citations from low-quality papers. To avoid inaccurate information, verifying the ResearchGate citation information with other more reliable databases like google scholar, Scopus, and Web of Science has been suggested.


This social media platform can create an alternative indicator of a paper’s influence depending on interactions and traces of work provided by other researchers or users on Altmetrics or other online platforms. This can be a complementary indicator for traditional citation indicators. This platform can measure how many times a paper viewed, downloaded, liked, shared, received comments, to be mentioned, or recommended on different social media, including Twitter, ResearchGate, LinkedIn, etc.

The other valuable benefit of this platform is that it can reflect the influence of scientific work on the practice, learning, and education of people who are not academic, like clinicians, educators, etc. However, it is noteworthy that the data Altmetrics present may not be reflected in the general population, so you, as a researcher, should be aware and careful about the quality and validity of the collected and analyzed data. For example, the open-access articles had a higher Altmetrics presence compared to not open-access papers.


This well-known social media is quite popular among non-academic people too. However, it can pave the way for researchers to share and promote their academic works while measuring its impact and reach through Twitter metrics. Additionally, although it is not a scholar-based database, it can be used as a source of information and data specifically on trend topics related to public opinions. Academics and businesses can both use this platform to investigate public opinions regarding trend subjects like pandemics, popular events, etc. They can gain up-to-date news from a wide range of people. However, it is better to know that Twitter data may be representative of not all general population, and you should be aware of the quality and validity of the data achieved or analyzed from Twitter.

I also should mention that Twitter has limitations regarding the characters you can upload in each tweet. This may be problematic when you upload a citation based on a valid reference style like APA reference style. 


The LinkedIn platform is a social network for professionals, experts, and organizations. After creating a profile, users can connect with their peers, share their achievements, and even search for new opportunities to elevate their work or academic status. It has been estimated that nowadays has more than 740 million members and 55 million organizations. LinkedIn has less significance in academic paper citations among the previously mentioned platforms since it is not a scholarly database for academic publications. However, some scientists may use it to present their literature to improve their papers’ visibility and impact. They can do this by adding their papers to their profiles and sharing them with their connections. Though if you are an academic researcher and you are going to do this, you should better know it may raise ethical issues, including plagiarism or self-plagiarism.

Final words

There is no doubt that social media plays an essential role in different aspects of our lives, and scientists and researchers can also benefit from the advantages of these platforms. They can promote and increase the reach and visibility of their publications through social networks. So, in this article, we explained how you could use different social platforms like ResearchGate, Altmetrics, Twitter, and linked in to promote your scientific and academic works.

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